Human glioma, in particular, malignant forms such as glioblastoma exhibit dismal survival rates despite advances in treatment strategies. A population of glioma cells with stem-like features, glioma cancer stem-like cells (GCSCs), contribute to renewal and maintenance of the tumor cell population and appear responsible for chemotherapeutic and radiation resistance. Bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4), drives differentiation of GCSCs and thus improves therapeutic efficacy. Based on this observation it is imperative that the clinical merits of BMP4 in treating human gliomas should be addressed. This article reviews BMP4 signaling in central nervous system development and in glioma tumorigenesis, and the potential of this molecule as a treatment target in human gliomas. Further work needs to be done to determine if distinct lineages of GCSCs, associated with different glioma sub-classifications, proneural, neural, classical and mesenchymal, differ in responsiveness to BMP4 treatment. Additionally, interaction among BMP4 and cell matrix, tumor-vascular molecules and microglial immune cells also needs to be investigated, as this will enhance our knowledge about the role of BMP4 in human glioma and lead to the identification and/or development of novel therapeutic approaches that improve treatment outcomes of these devastating tumors.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.